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Cigar Review: Davidoff Yamasá Robusto

14 Nov 2018

As one of Davidoff’s black band bunch, Yamasá is immediately identifiable as being outside the company’s typical profile. A bit bolder. A bit more intense. A bit more power.

Yamasá highlights a tobacco that celebrates what Davidoff calls “Master Blender Henke Kelner’s impossible dream to turn the unforgiving swampland of the Yamasá region into a successful tobacco-growing field.” It makes for a smooth wrapper and is also used for the binder. The filler is a combination of Nicaraguan and Dominican leaves.

But it was the Yamasá tobacco that piqued my interest. It was featured in Davidoff’s now-discontinued Puro d’Oro line, one that I thoroughly enjoyed.

I smoked a five-pack of the Yamasá Robustos (5 x 50) and, not surprisingly, found them remarkably consistent. Each of the started a little harsh but quickly smoothed out after only a couple puffs.

And that’s when the cigar began to come into its own. I quickly picked up notes of leather, nuts, and coffee with cream during the first third or so. Then the leather and nuts receded as the creamy coffee came on stronger.

At the halfway point, I noticed that typical Davidoff earthy mushroom flavor, which dissipated fairly quickly. Another flavor soon made itself known: a tangy citrus note. It stayed throughout the remainder of the smoke, creating a nice contrast with the coffee and cream.

As you’d expect, construction was excellent, as were the burn and draw. The Yamasá also produced rich, thick smoke.

The line has five vitolas, ranging from a behemoth (6 x 60) to a petit Churchill (4 x 48). MSRP on the Robusto is $19.70.

I thoroughly enjoyed the Yamasá experience, and I would recommend it to any experienced cigar smoker. For me, the Davidoff Yamasá Robusto rates four stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Davidoff / Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: Punch Diablo Scamp

31 Oct 2018

Diablo kicks off with the accelerator mashed to the floor. After getting your attention and numbing your lips, the devil backs off from pedal-to-the-metal to a little over the speed limit.

Announcing the Punch Diablo earlier this year, General Cigar said it “wanted to make the fullest-bodied Punch to date.” They turned to frequent partner A.J. Frenandez to create the blend, which is made at his factory in Estelí, Nicaragua.

He worked with a blend of Nicaraguan and Honduran filler, a Connecticut Broadleaf binder, and a dark Ecuadorian Sumatra wrapper. The wrapper, aged for six years, has a dry, gritty feel with almost no visible veins and a nice, deep cap. Pre-light, it has a campfire aroma, while the filler is sweet.

After the strong start, Diablo presents lighter spice and woodiness. I also pick up some floral notes in the first half. And that sweetness from the pre-light is present throughout, with greater prominence in the second half. On the downside, it is a dry smoke, and I’d recommend accompanying it with a large container of your favorite beverage.

Performance in those I smoked was excellent: near-perfect burn and draw, a light ash, and thick, rich smoke.

The line comes in only three sizes. The Scamp I sampled is a 6.125-inch, 50-ring gauge toro. It comes 25 to a box with a single stick MSRP of $7.17. The Diabolus (5.25 x 54) also comes in boxes of 25 and has an MSRP of $7.79, while boxes of the Brute (6.25 x 60, $8.19) hold 20.

Diablo features what General says is “the brand’s new look and feel.” New, indeed. The bands, for example, bear almost no resemblance to those on the traditional Punch, which echoed the the ones from Habanos. The boxes also are unlikely to be mistaken for anything coming out of Cuba.

I’ve enjoyed quite a few Punch cigars over the years, including some of the limited-release Rare Corojos, the Champion, and the Signature Pita. Diablo joins their ranks. I rate this cigar three and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Aging Room Small Batch Pura Cepa Mezzo

26 Oct 2018

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

Regular readers know I’m a long-time fan of Aging Room cigars. As such, I approach any new release from Rafael Nodal and company with high expectations. Pura Cepa, released this year, is a Nicaraguan puro that begins with sweetness rather than the more-common pepper, which is present in the background. As the toro-sized Mezzo (6 x 54) progresses, the pepper moves forward at some points, and I also get spice and notes of coffee and wood, all smoothly blended for a satisfying smoke. Burn, draw, and smoke production are excellent. All in all, Pura Cepa is another winner from Aging Room.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: Drew Estate x Caldwell All Out Kings Smash

14 Oct 2018

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

When I reviewed this cigar about a year and a half ago, I didn’t particularly enjoy it. Commenter Brandon suggested I wait a while to gauge the impact of a little aging. I still had two and lit one the other day to check out the performance. The short answer: much better. Gone was the “sharp, back-of-the-throat bite” and much of the dirty taste that marred my initial experience with this robusto (5 x 52). There was also greater balance. Time in the humidor seems to have done well by this cigar. While I still don’t find the complex blend to be among my favorites, the aged All Out Kings was a more than satisfactory smoke. If you lack the patience to age them yourself, check the shelves at your local retailer and see how thick the dust has settled.

Verdict = Buy.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Quick Smoke: United Cigar Churchill

12 Oct 2018

A couple times each week we’ll post a Quick Smoke: not quite a full review, just our brief verdict on a single cigar of “buy,” “hold,” or “sell.”

United Cigar has several highly rated brands, such as Atabey and Byron. Unfortunately, its eponymous line isn’t up to those standards. Though performance was fine, for me, the blend—filler from Brazil (Mata Fina) and the Dominican Republic (Habano Corojo and Habano Criollo ’98), a Broadleaf wrapper, and a Habano binder—just didn’t jell. The Churchill (7 x 54, $7) was harsh and dry from start to finish.

Verdict = Sell.

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: La Gloria Cubana Estelí Robusto

3 Oct 2018

Unlike the other La Gloria Cubana with which this cigar shares a name—the Serie R Estelí—this is not a Nicaraguan puro.

In fact, only the wrapper, a dark, oily leaf from the acclaimed Jalapa Valley, is from Nicaragua. The binder is from the southern Honduran area of Jamastran, while the filler combines tobacco from there and from the western area of La Entrada.

General Cigar says the name is “in honor of the artisans of our factory in Estelí who did a fantastic job creating the blend,” which General calls a “modern, fuller-bodied take on the classic La Gloria smoking experience.”

The Robustos I smoked are one of three sizes for the new release: Robusto (4.5 x 52, $4.99), Toro (5.5 x 54, $5.99), and Gigante (6.25 x 60, $6.99).

The wrapper, surprisingly, offers little pre-light aroma. It’s an easy light and the opening puffs have a deep, charred flavor. Soon, there is a good bit of spice and a little sweetness, which increases in the final third. Along the way I also picked up some cedar and earthiness. Strength was in the medium range.

Although I haven’t smoked the other vitolas, the Robusto strikes me as an excellent size. It is not a particularly complex cigar, and in 4.5 inches you can fully experience the blend.

The draw was good in each of those I smoked, and the ash held tightly. The burn did require a couple of minor touch-ups that weren’t significant enough to affect the experience.

If you go searching for the La Gloria Cubana Estelí, you might need a sharp eye. While the single band includes the word “Estelí” in all caps, a shopper could be forgiven for becoming confused by the brand’s seemingly endless lineup.

The non-Cuban La Gloria Cubanagot its start in Miami in the early 1970s and gained an enthusiastic national following during the 1990s cigar boom.

Since Ernesto Perez-Carrillo sold the brand in 1999, General Cigar has pumped out extension after extension, some influential and long-lasting, some limited editions, and some eventually killed. And though Perez-Carrillo left General in 2007 to start his own brand, last year he joined in creating La Gloria Cubana Colección Reserva, which is rolled at his factory.

Over the years, has reviewed a dozen La Gloria Cubana cigars, with an impressive two-thirds of them receiving ratings of four stogies or higher. This latest iteration earns three and a half stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys

Cigar Review: La Palina Blue Label Toro (TAA Exclusive)

1 Oct 2018

Blue, according to numerous experts, is a soothing color. And that might just be how you feel about this limited edition available for sale from members of the Tobacconists’ Association of America (TAA).

With its light brown Ecuadorian Habano wrapper, my first impression of the La Palina Blue Label was that of an “everyman” cigar. Not too bold, not too mild, just the kind to appeal across the board.

It delivers as well. From the first puffs, the Blue Label reveals delicate flavors that range from coffee and citrus to baking spices, all in a well-balanced blend. Strength is in the medium range, with lots of smoke, a near-perfect burn, and an easy draw.

Rolled at the Plascencia factory in Honduras, the Blue Label features a filler mix of Honduran and Nicaraguan tobacco held by a Honduran binder. Available only as a 6.5-inch, by 52-ring gauge Toro, the MSRP is $10.

The Blue Label is one of several cigars La Palina has designated with a color, a process that would seem to offer an easy and nearly endless supply of names. Umber or Chartreuse, anyone?

TAA, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, is a trade group of about 80 retailers and several dozen manufacturers. While less visible than the much larger International Premium Cigar & Pipe Retailers Association (IPCPR), TAA offers exclusivity, with membership only by invitation.

You can check the association’s website to see if there’s a TAA shop near you. And if not, quite a few TAA members maintain online sales operations.

TAA’s prominence has been boosted in recent years with the release of special editions available only to its members. La Palina Blue Label is one of a baker’s dozen TAA lists as 2018 limited editions.

Sometimes manufacturers elevate their TAA releases to later become regular releases. That happened with La Palina’s TAA Bronze Label, which was greeted last year with enthusiasm and went into standard production this year. Perhaps the Blue Label will move in this direction as well. If so, it would be another strong cigar in La Palina’s expanding lineup. I rate it four stogies out of five.

[To read more cigar reviews, please click here.]

George E

photo credit: Stogie Guys